Reconstructing the Rutledge House in the Historic North Fork Valley
The Rutledge House in 1973. (Photo: DHR Archives).
A short time ago, I stopped by the old Rutledge place to see a remarkable restoration project in progress. Located in the beautiful North Fork of the Roanoke River Valley in Montgomery County, an area designated back in 1989 as the North Fork Valley Rural Historic District (RHD), the log dwelling perhaps best known as the Rutledge House had fallen into poor condition over many decades. Photos from the early 1970s depict the house in only fair condition. When I made my first visit to the property in 2014 with a student from nearby Virginia Tech, the house had already been vacant for years.
When Mountain Valley Pipeline mitigation dollars were made available for preservation projects within the RHD, the current owner of the Rutledge place was able to put some of it to good use in restoring the log house, which is truly an important architectural resource. It is among the oldest known surviving log houses in the region, and it had not been modernized. Architectural clues indicate it was standing by 1815, and the property’s ownership history suggests a possible late 18th-century construction date. The land was owned by Rutledges from 1798 to 1841. The surname originated in Scotland, where stone construction abounds, which could account for the excellent limestone masonry of the house’s chimney, as well as the adjacent two-room springhouse. An interesting and highly unusual feature of both buildings is a triangular “hex” stone built into the masonry.